Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Still Spoiling Kids Rotten at Jack’s North Hi

Jack’s North Hi Carryout
603 West 13th St. N.
Wichita, KS

Kids these days.

They just don’t know how good they’ve got it.

I slipped into grumpy old man mode momentarily as I glanced out the windows of Jack’s North Hi Carryout at the formidable façade of Wichita North High School directly across the street.

How I’d kill to have some awesome greasy burger joint adjacent to my school when I was growing up!

But no such luck for young Suit757.

Nope. Peanut butter and jelly on wheat in a brown paper bag. Every single day for eight years in grade school.

High school wasn’t much better.

Oh, sure we had a real cafeteria with lunch ladies slinging unidentified slop in various shapes and sizes.

I almost always opted for the “pizza”.

I put the word in quotes because it resembled pizza only in the sense that it was flat and purported to contain a few of the traditional pizza ingredients – stale dough, a paper thin smear of tomato sauce and one or two sprinkles of industrial cheese.

That was my lunch every day for four years.

Is it any wonder I developed such an obsession with top notch road side junk food, given the culinary depravity I suffered through during my formative Suit757 years?

Jack’s North Hi Carryout has been mobbed by hungry Wichita North High School students every day at the lunch bell for the better part of 60 years.

That’s why I wisely chose to get here early.

What I want to know is, where do these kids get the dough for such luxuries?

Heck, I was lucky if I saved my allowance up to afford a McDonald’s cheeseburger and piece of fried dough once or twice per summer for our occasional excursions to the beach. It was either that or endure my mother’s sand-filled peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on the beach blanket.

Uh, no thanks, mom. I’ll buy my own lunch.

But if I had a place like Jack’s nearby, I might have gotten a second part-time job. Or put my bike up for collateral and gotten a payday loan.

Jack’s has undergone several ownership changes in recent years.

This latest incarnation is bright and clean, with an industrial -- dare I say – school cafeteria atmosphere.

The only tie to the past is the old hand-painted menu board behind the counter with 1950s era prices. Unfortunately it’s merely a decoration. You can thank Ben Bernanke and Alan Greenspan for the fact that the real prices are about ten to fifteen times higher today.

The décor could definitely use a touch more nostalgia befitting a six decade old burger joint.

But the kids don’t care. Most business here is carryout anyway. Hence the name.

My quarter pound burger came with bacon, grilled onions, an unmelted slice of American cheese, lettuce and a slather of mustard (even though I asked for ketchup instead). The standard issue buns were livened up a bit by being toasted on the grease-infused burger griddle.

It was a good burger. Not great. But good.

It would need to be a bit juicier for great.

The good, thick bacon piled on top was the real highlight. There’s nothing like the combination of dead cow and pig on a bun.

It would beat the heck out of mom’s peanut butter and jelly – every day of the week.

Not that the kids at Wichita North High would know anything about that.

Kids these days.

Rating: Would Wear a Free Shirt.

Jack's North Hi Carry Out on Urbanspoon

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